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How to Make 3D Sidewalk Art - Street Chalk Paintings and Murals - Forced Perspective - SideWalk Art Festivals

An photo of the 2010 SparkCon Festival in Raleigh, NC which featured Sidewalk Chalk Murals.

An photo of the 2010 SparkCon Festival in Raleigh, NC which featured Sidewalk Chalk Murals.

Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk Chalk is becoming very popular. Many cities are now holding annual festivals where they will have artists create large chalk murals not just on the sidewalks but on the streets.

Some Sidewalk Chalk Festivals include:

  • The Pasadena Chalk Festival, which set a Guinness Book World Record in July of 2010 for the Largest Display of Chalk Pavement Art.
  • SAAM I Am - Chalk Festival in Washington DC
  • SparkCon - Raleigh NC
  • Syracuse New Times Street Painting Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest


3D Sidewalk Chalk

A good 3D sidewalk mural is an amazing sight to see. The first time someone sees one of these works of art they are usually surprised at how the mural looks when not look at it from the point it was designed to be viewed from. These murals are much larger than they appear from the viewing point and the images are stretched out. This is because they the drawing has to be skewed order to maintains the correct proportions. So the points far away from the viewing point will be much larger than the areas closer. Unlike wall art where you are looking straight on, with sidewalk art you are looking down at an angle, which is why a sidewalk artist much correct the perspective.

Julian Beever has become famous for his 3 dimensional chalk drawings. He is a master of Forced Perspective and has created some amazing optical illusions with his sidewalk art.

This is how the above sidewalk chalk mural looks from the side.

This is how the above sidewalk chalk mural looks from the side.

Creating your Own 3D Sidewalk Chalk Mural

The first thing you will need is to make a drawing of how you will want your mural to look.

With a normal sidewalk mural we then use that drawing as a template as we outline our mural. But before we can get to outlining our 3D Mural we will need to adjust the drawing for the altered perspective. You can use your computer to help you create a template with a properly adjusted perspective for your outline.

Our original image with an increased canvas size.

Our original image with an increased canvas size.

Increase Canvas Size

3D Sidewalk Art is much larger than it appears in the photographs you have seen on line.

The first thing we will need to do with our original image is increase the size of the canvas.

You can increase your canvas size in Adobe Photoshop and most other image editing programs by clicking on Image > Canvas Size from the Menu bar.

Depending on the size of you intend on making your mural the amount you increase your height and width will need to be adjusted. For starters try tripling your canvas height and doubling your canvas width.

The result of adjusting the perspective of our image.

The result of adjusting the perspective of our image.

Adjust the Perspective

Next we will adjust the perspective of the image using the Perspective Tool.

Select Tools > Perspective Tool from the menu bar of your image editing program.

Then just drag the two far corners of your image to the corners of the canvas to adjust the perspective of your image.

Scroll to Continue

This will give you a template that you can use as a guide for creating your own 3D Sidewalk Chalk Mural.


Ready, Set, Chalk

Now that we have a proper template we are all set to break out the chalk and start outlining our Mural. After we are done outline we can start to the process of filling in the color and blending.

Chalking Tips:

  • When creating a large mural make sure to start coloring from the center and moving out or working from one side to the other. That way you will not be stepping or kneeling on sections you have already worked on. You wouldn't want to smudge your work of art.
  • Make sure to wear some clothes you don't mind getting dirty because you will likely have almost as much chalk on them as the sidewalk.

Sidewalk Chalk for Kids

Chalk Patels for Artists


Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on March 11, 2013:

Love chalk drawings, voted up

ben on September 03, 2012:

that's coolllll

Hello on June 17, 2012:

I have a question. What if you do the art on a hill or inclined surface?

Bion Smalley on November 21, 2011:

It's very easy to print out 3D anamorphic images or grids for transfer to sidewalk using BSAsidewalk3D. No math required, no cut and try, no expensive Adobe. Just load your image, set up the viewing position and the size of the resulting image and print out the projection grid or save the projection to a file. More fun and less fuss. Available at a very low price for both Mac and Windows. Visit for details.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on November 03, 2011:

I enjoyed this Hub. Can't imagine how they do ot, but then I can't imagine how any artist working in any medium does it. :)

randomfusshyxoxo on April 02, 2011:

i don't get it how do you make pavement art look 3D

TJG-Designs from Boston Area on October 02, 2010:

I love this sort of artwork great job!

aperturering (author) from Raleigh, NC on September 26, 2010:

Thanks Steve. The kids can have days worth of fun playing in the driveway with a bucket of chalk.

SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on September 25, 2010:

Fun hub! I am no artist, but every summer, my granddaughter and I decorate her dad's parking spot. When he pulls in after work, he sees huge lettering that says: "I love you Daddy!" with a whole lot of decorations. No matte how crummy his day has been, his whole attitude changes to find this greeting.

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